Khmourg Nakry: A Ghost’s Story
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This creative thesis takes the form of a short story and accompanying expanded plotline. The analysis and creative artifact study a self-described lack of understanding about half of my ethnic culture. This is within the context of my own identity as a half-anglo American daughter of a Cambodian refugee. The intentional craft of empathy as it pertains to creative writing is forefront in my methodology. The story, inspired by true events told by my own mother, follows the accounts of a khmourg (ghost) with an attachment to a family in a Cambodian labor camp in the 1970s under the communist Khmer Rouge regime. By writing from three perspectives—the ghost, the girl who woke her up, and the girl’s American-Cambodian daughter decades in future—research in the context of artistic creation asks to what extent does storytelling shape perceptions of traumatic historical events, specifically in following generations who struggle to identify themselves with a past they inherited but didn’t experience except in postmemory. While slightly disconnected from my family history by the intended fantastical elements, this study and accompanying artifacts are an in-depth look into my own understandings of cultural empathy. My family histories, complete with first-hand accounts from those very close to me, are the foundation for my study of postmemory within the context of the Khmer Rouge Genocide. I’m not generalizing the community as a whole. I’m making personal observations based in the oral history of one family and my own psychological standpoint as I try to study the development of my own empathy.
SubjectAggie Creative Collective
Hough, Grace Neaksai (2021). Khmourg Nakry: A Ghost’s Story. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from